Families Stand Together: Sesame Street Continues to Help During Tough Times

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Sesame Workshop and Elmo visited Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center to present Families Stand Together, an initiative to provide families that are experiencing difficult economic times with strategies and tips that lead to positive outcomes for their children. Pictured (left to right) are: Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society; Patricia Harrison, President and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Al Roker, NBC News Today Show co-host; Deborah Roberts, ABC News 20/20 Correspondent; Elmo; Jean Chatzky, personal finance expert; Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop; Daisey Holmes, President, BNY Mellon Foundation.

Photo credit: Sesame Workshop/ Gil Vaknin

25,000 Additional Free Resources to be Distributed Throughout New York City

Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Jean Chatzky and Elmo Attend Community Event at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Children’s Center in New York City on May 6

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. New York, New York. May 6, 2010- In today’s economic climate, approximately two out of three middle class families are at high risk of sustaining or losing their economic security. Moreover, increases in job loss and income cuts have made families struggle with basic costs like housing, medical care, transportation, food, clothing, and child care. In response to these ongoing changes in family economics, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, produced Families Stand Together; an initiative to help families with children, ages two to eight, experiencing difficult economic circumstances with strategies and tips that can lead to positive outcomes for their children’s physical and emotional well-being during this tough economic climate. On the heels of an amazing response to the first roll-out of material in fall 2009, Sesame Workshop has created an additional 25,000 free bi-lingual educational Families Stand Together outreach kits. The announcement was made today at a Community Screening and Resource Fair at the Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Children’s Center- in New York City by Gary E. Knell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sesame Workshop, Patricia Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who was joined by ABC News 20/20 Correspondent Deborah Roberts and NBC News Today Show Co-host, Al Roker, Personal finance expert, Jean Chatzky, and Sesame Street’s Elmo who all participated in the original PBS special that aired when this initiative first launched.

This on-going initiative was made possible by the generous support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the additional kits and NYC community event were made possible with the support of BNY Mellon. Resources and materials are also available online at www.sesamestreet.org/toughtimes so that families everywhere can view the videos and download the information.

In conjunction with the distribution of the new kits, New York City’s local PBS affiliate, WNET, will air an encore presentation of Families Stand Together on Saturday, May 15th at 1:00 PM. Featuring Sesame Street’s Grover, Chris, Elmo’s family and financial expert Jean Chatzky and parenting and relationship expert Dr. Joshua Coleman, Families Stand Together provides simple strategies and helpful tips that can easily be integrated into families’ everyday routines. The video includes documentary footage of real American families who are living through difficult economic conditions, encouraging positive strategies and modeling behavior for parents and care providers to support the entire family during insecure times.

"Sesame Street has a long and accomplished history of working with families and communities to address everything from social to economic issues. Deborah and I are proud to be working with the Families Stand Together initiative to help families who are struggling with the challenging economic circumstances faced by millions of Americans," said Al Roker. “We are confident these strategies, delivered with the know-how, expertise, and caring that Sesame Street is known for, will prove invaluable to these families as they navigate the current financial crisis."

“In these difficult financial times, we find that parents often lack the words to explain what is going on to their children and that prevents them from having the necessary conversations,” said Jean Chatzky. “Working with Sesame Street, we’re able to give the families in the video— and the many others watching from home — the tools they need.” 

“For nearly 40 years, Sesame Workshop and our beloved Sesame Street Muppets have addressed educational and community needs through the creative use of media. We have never shied away from delving into deep and complex issues and finding accessible and age-appropriate ways to talk about these issues with children and families,” said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. “We are grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the BNY Mellon for acknowledging our goals with their continuous support of Families Stand Together resources for our families, Knell added. “And we are grateful for the bravery of these families depicted in the video who tell their very personal stories so others can learn from their journeys.”

The following local resources were also on hand at The Children’s Aid Society to support the many families in attendance: The Children’s Aid Society’s Office of Public Policy and Client Advocacy offered bilingual resources concerning financial health, benefits and housing issues. Information was available about the New York Times Subprime Neediest Cases Fund, a program assisting victims of the subprime mortgage crisis with financial support to secure affordable, stable housing and avoid homelessness. A representative from Children’s Aid’s HCAP (Health Care Access Program) helped enroll families in New York’s government-sponsored health insurance programs: Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus. NEDAP (Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project) was on hand to offer information and guidance to the community concerning fair access to credit and financial services.

Sesame Workshop has extended the initiative by providing additional resources online, in print and into local communities to help guide families during these tough times. The Children’s Aid Society will be distributing the 25,000 kits throughout the New York City area.

The bi-lingual (English/Spanish) outreach kit consists of:

A bi-lingual (English/Spanish) outreach kit with a DVD featuring documentary moments of families as well as content to help children and families talk about the feelings and stresses during economic insecurity.

A printed children’s story that offers support and strategies for families during economic transitions.

A parent/caregiver guide that provides strategies on how to meet challenges as a family, ideas about how to explain difficult situations to young children, and tips on planning for the short- and long-term.

Sesame Workshop produced Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times, in association with David Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants Incorporated and Lookalike Productions.

About BNY Mellon:

BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. BNY Mellon is a global financial services company focused on helping clients manage and service their financial assets, operating in 34 countries and serving more than 100 markets. BNY Mellon is a leading provider of financial services for institutions, corporations and high-net-worth individuals, providing superior asset management and wealth management, asset servicing, issuer services, clearing services and treasury services through a worldwide client-focused team. It has $22.4 trillion in assets under custody and administration, $1.1 trillion in assets under management, services $11.8 trillion in outstanding debt and processes global payments averaging $1.5 trillion per day. Additional information is available at www.bnymellon.com.

About CPB:

CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services.

About LOOKALIKE PRODUCTIONS – Lisa Lax & Nancy Stern

Lookalike Productions represents the diverse collaborative efforts of twin sister filmmakers Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern, whose television and film productions have earned them a combined 16 Emmy Awards. After spending fifteen years in network television producing & directing documentary films, live sporting events, entertainment specials and series, Lisa and Nancy became producing partners in 2002. Telling stories on film is Lookalike’s specialty, and their first collaboration was the award-winning documentary “Emmanuel’s Gift”.

The film highlighted the courageous efforts of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah as he fought for the rights of two million of his fellow disabled in Ghana, West Africa. “Emmanuel’s Gift” sparked a call to action. In July, 2006, Ghana’s Parliament passed a Disability Bill that had been ignored for decades, guaranteeing unparalleled rights for this long-overlooked community. Lisa and Nancy take great pride in producing important and meaningful projects that generate awareness and trigger social change.

About PBS:

PBS, with its 357 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

About Sesame Workshop:

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 140 countries, and other acclaimed shows to help bridge the literacy gap including The Electric Company and Pinky Dinky Doo. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org.

About Worldwide Pants Incorporated:

Worldwide Pants, Inc. (WPI) is the independent, New York City-based entertainment company that David Letterman founded in 1993. WPI creates original content for television and film, as well as for new media platforms including broadband and wireless. It currently has several comedy, animation, variety/talk, and feature projects in active development. WPI's successful network productions include "The Late Show with David Letterman;" "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson;" and the Emmy award-winning "Everybody Loves Raymond," which completed a successful nine-year run in 2005. WPI also created the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated "Ed," which ran for four seasons on NBC; "The Knights of Prosperity," which aired on ABC in 2006-2007; and "Welcome to New York," which aired on CBS in 2000. WPI has garnered more than 100 Emmy nominations and won 24 Emmy awards. "The Late Show" alone has received 60 Emmy nominations and won nine Emmys awards, including "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program" in 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. "Everybody Loves Raymond" received 69 Emmy nominations and 15 Emmy awards in its nine seasons. WPI expanded into feature films with the 2004 production of "Strangers with Candy," which debuted at Sundance to wide critical acclaim and was distributed by THINKFilm in 2006, and "The Youngest Candidate," a feature documentary released earlier this year, that follows teens running for elected office.

About The Children’s Aid Society:

The Children’s Aid Society is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to serve the children of New York City. Our mission is to provide comprehensive support for children in need, from birth to young adulthood, and for their families, to fill the gaps between what children have and what they need to thrive. Founded in 1853, it is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies, serving New York’s neediest children. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics and camps. For additional information, please call 212-949-4938, email ellenl@childrensaidsociety.org or visit www.childrensaidsociety.org.

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Press Contacts:

Pam Hacker, Sesame Workshop, 212.875.6225, Pam.hacker@sesameworkshop.org

Stephanie Baumoel, FerenComm for Sesame Workshop, 212.983.9898, stephanieb@ferencomm.com

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